Immortal

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Speaking of Scents:  Another bereaved momma commented on my blog yesterday saying that she too was holding onto the only unwashed outfit of her baby girl.  She is keeping it in a Ziploc bag and opening it up only once in a while because she is afraid of letting out the smell and losing it forever.  I feel the same way!  I am afraid of sniffing it all out.  I would be devastated to open it up and not smell Maxie's smell in there.  I want the smell to stay with me forever.  If I close my eyes and think of Maxie, I can smell his smell even without the clothes.  He is eternally with me.

My grandpa Jack died at the end of my Sophomore year at Pitzer College.  I wouldn't say it was completely unexpected, and on the other hand it was.  He seemed to be in pretty good health, despite having been in and out of the hospital.  He was even said to have walked five miles the night before he died.  He was well known for his walking ways.  My grandpa was the Chief of Pathology at Kaiser Southern California and everyone who knew him knew that he would walk from Kaiser Sunset to Kaiser West LA (a fairly far distance) while reading thick medical journals and pulling out the pages as he read to lighten his load.  He was a character - loved by many.  I loved him (and still do) so much.  He was one of my greatest supporters - he was smart, funny and such a good man.  I told him everything.  I still miss him every day.

After my grandpa died, my grandma gave me three pairs of his recently worn pajamas.  They came right out of the hamper.  They still smelled like him.  I took them back to college with me in the fall and wore them every night, despite the suffocating Inland Empire heat.  I wore them and wore them and wore them.....and didn't wash them.  I know it's gross, but I couldn't risk losing the smell.  He smelled like Old Spice, or one of those spicy grandpa aftershaves.  

The other thing I did, which I have hardly told a soul, is to try and recreate the sound of my grandparents condo in my dorm room.  I put my fan on full blast (which I also had to do because of the suffocating heat I already mentioned) and let it rock the hanging vertical blinds in my room.  My grandparents lived at the beach and there was always a breeze flowing through their condo, rocking the blinds.  I didn't talk about it to many people but I was grieving.  I couldn't fathom him being gone.  I spent a lot of time in my room crying.  Eventually I washed the pajamas (had to be done) - but kept on wearing them. I wore them until there were holes in them and they were falling apart at the seams. I can hardly believe how long it's been since the last time he told me a dirty yiddish joke.  I miss him.

My grandfather has come to me many times through the years in various ways but so much more so since losing Max.  I have smelt his aftershave in my room when there has been nobody else around, I have seen him in dreams and meditations, I had a vision of him caring for my Max while in a hypnotherapy session.  He is the first one to show up every single time I sit down with one of my mediums hoping to hear from my baby.  I didn't love him more than I loved my grandmother (I loved her wildly and madly), but our bond was something from out of this world - like my bond with Max in some ways.... Not of earth.  From someplace else somehow.  Even stranger is that my grandpa Jack wasn't even my biological grandfather - but we connected very deeply regardless.

Maxie is buried just a short walk away from my grandparents.  Whenever I visit Max, I visit them afterwards and remind them to "take care of my baby".  I believe that, along with Ted's grandparents and my father's parents, they are.

"Jack Gordon was fond of quoting Muriel Humphrey's admonition to Hubert Humphrey, when as mayor of Jack's hometown of Minneapolis, he was speechifying, that she told him 'You don't have to be eternal to be immortal'.  So I'll be brief, but Jack will still be immortal".  This was the opening to one of the eulogies given for my grandpa Jack at his funeral, which was attended by hundreds of people, by one of his colleagues.  I hadn't pulled out the eulogies in years but found them again recently when cleaning out my file cabinets.  I love and nearly can't believe that this is what he was fond of quoting. It is a sign I think.  They are together.

I wish I knew the context for his fondness of this quote.  "You don't have to be eternal to be immortal".  I wish I understood what his feeling was about eternity or immortality.  I'm pretty sure that, while alive, he thought they were both pretty bogus.  My grandparents were extremely unimpressed by organized religion.  They were more political than spiritual but as my grandmother lay in bed, near her own death, she seemed to be talking to him.  I wish I had paid better attention.  I wish I had asked her whether he was there. 

Despite his obvious disinterest in god or the spiritual realm, it's funny to me that THIS was his favorite quote.  And yet, it makes perfect sense - for over these past two years, his immortal presence (or the idea of it) has been a great comfort to me.

 Grandpa Jack with me - hanging out in our PJs

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe so so strongly that your Maxie is with your grandpa right this second. I believe.

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